You’re ready to apply for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme (TOV) provided by the Local Enterprise Office. As you know, the TOV grant can save you up to 90% when investing in your business’ online presence.
In this article, I’ll explain the steps involved in applying for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. Spoiler: it’s straight forward and won’t take more than a couple of hours of your time.
How to Apply for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme
How do I apply for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme? To apply for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, you will need to attend an information webinar (2-3 hours in duration) and submit an application form outlining how your business will use the grant money (up to €2,500), if approved.
Your application form will be evaluated by a committee within your Local Enterprise Office and you will receive a decision on your application 1-4 weeks after submission. If approved, you will have three months to use your voucher. If you require longer than three months, contact your LEO who offer an additional one-month extension in some cases.
Here are the four steps involved in applying for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme:
- Determine which type of service(s) you require
- Get quotations from three different suppliers
- Attend an informational webinar
- Submit an application form
1. Determine which type of service(s) you require
The first step in applying for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme is determining which services you require to improve your business’ online presence. For example, if you currently have a brochure website that just offers customers information about your products but has no ecommerce functionality, you may want to add an ecommerce functionality to your website so your customers can checkout online. If you’re looking to reach new customers through advertising, you may wish to invest in your digital marketing strategy (e.g. social media, search engine optimisation, content creation).
Here are some examples of services that you may require to grow your business online – make a note of the options that sound right for your business, we’ll use these later in the application form.
- IT consultation
- Project management
- New ecommerce website (from scratch)
- Upgrade to existing ecommerce website
- Content management system
- App development
- Digital marketing strategy
- Online advertising (for up to 30% of the approved voucher cost)
- Copywriting for the web
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Web analytics
2. Get quotations from three different suppliers
Once you’ve decided what you need done for your business, next you need to get quotations (prices) from three different suppliers who offer the service(s) you need. These suppliers must be registered companies, so freelancers (i.e. solo developers) aren’t qualify. Your supplier isn’t restricted to those based in Ireland or the EU, meaning you can work with suppliers anywhere in the world. You will most likely require an agency to provide you with the services you need.
Choosing a partner to help grow your business online is a fundamental step. We’ve put together a list of the best ecommerce agencies in Ireland to help you make your decision. Here at Thooja, we specialise in ecommerce website design and development so if you’re looking to grow your sales online by adding or improving the ecommerce functionality on your website, we’d love to hear from you.
You will need to receive quotes from three different suppliers to apply for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. In some cases, it will not make sense to receive three separate quotations. For example, if you’re looking to get a new website built and also improve your digital marketing strategy, but only one agency can offer both, then you can contact your LEO and they may make an exception for your application and you will only require one quote.
3. Attend an informational webinar
You will need to attend an informational webinar to receive an application form to apply for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. The information webinar is 2-3 hours in duration, depending on your LEO. During the information webinar, you will receive information about developing a website, how to reach new customers and markets through digital marketing, social media, and search engine optimisation (SEO), among other topics.
Sign Up For the Informational Webinar
You can sign up for the webinar by visiting the website of your Local Enterprise Office. You can get a full list of all LEO websites in our Trading Online Voucher Scheme Guide.
Once on the Trading Online Voucher page on your LEO website, click the TOV Webinars link. Note: this step may differ depending on your LEO website.
You will then be brought to an Online Booking page with a list of all upcoming events at your Local Enterprise Office.
Filter by category and set it to ‘Seminar‘. Click the ‘Search‘ button. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the webinar was an in-person seminar.
The list of upcoming events will update and you will only be shown the upcoming seminars (webinars) organised by your LEO. Scroll through the list and find the next Trading Online Voucher Webinar. If you are available for the date and time of the webinar, select ‘1‘ as the number of attendees from the Attendees dropdown menu and click ‘Book Now‘ to confirm your booking.
If you are not available for the webinar at the date and time provided, keep scrolling and you will find more dates and times.
A popup will show on screen confirming that ‘You have successfully added an event to your cart’ .
Click ‘Proceed to Checkout‘.
You will then be taken to the ‘Online Bookings Registration’ page where you will be asked for your Billing Details and the Attendee Details. Note: the webinar is free and you will not be charged for attending.
Fill out the requested information and click ‘Confirm Booking‘.
Your booking is confirmed. You will be shown a Thank You page which confirms your booking information.
You will be emailed with information on how to join the webinar.
4. Submit an application form
You will need to fill out and submit an application form to your Local Enterprise Office to apply for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme. The application form must be typed – handwritten forms will not be accepted.
The application form will ask for information from you regarding your company, the nature of your products/services, and the project you wish to undertake.
Downloading the Application Form
The Trading Online Voucher Application Form will be emailed to you after you attend the webinar (assuming you are eligible for the scheme). You can also download the application form here.
Filling out the Application Form
The questions on the application form are self-explanatory and a description is provided for each question.
Company Information: You will be asked to provide the following information about your company:
- Company name
- Company address
- Website address – you can still apply if you don’t have a website
- Business type
- CRO Number or satisfactory evidence of trading for at least 12 months if unregistered (e.g. sole trader)
- Year business was established
- How long has the business been trading?
Describe your Business: You will be asked to describe your business’ products/services. In this section, you should provide an overview of all your business’ activities whether related to the project or not. This section should be no more than 150 words.
Describe your Trading Online Project: The next sections in the application form are directly about the trading online project. Answer this question: what is it that your business expects this project to do that will help your business? Some examples of your answer might include: handle sales, generate new leads, or handle customer service. Be as specific as possible. This section should be no more than 150 words.
Develop a Project Plan: Next, you’ll be asked questions that will form your “project plan”:
- Unique Selling Point(s) of your Products/Services/Business processes targeted in this project. Look at your online competitors, decide what products/services you will focus on – not all of them need to be traded online. Why did you select what you have? This section should be no more than 150 words.
- Your Target Market through this project. Who are your customers going to be? (i.e. what customers will you target through your online channels? This section should be no more than 150 words.
- Trading online competitors. On Google, search for your products/services and write down the main 3 to 5 competitors (with a link to their websites) that offer competing products/services.
- Scope of work to be carried out. What are the specific deliverables of the project relating back to the business objectives? Describe the work to be undertaken in this project. This section should be no more than 150 words.
Business Investment: this section will help the LEO understand what investment your business is making in this project.
- Internal resources brought to the project
- External resources brought to the project
- Existing Assets the project should leverage off. What additional information can you provide to help suppliers assist you? Social media presence you want to leverage? Design material? Photographs? Brand & marketing material?
Projected Outcomes: this section will ask for business and financial forecasts for the next 12 months, assuming you implement your project plan.
- Market expansion potential. What impact will the trading online project have on your business in terms of employment, revenue and ability to export? Based on your target market and competitor analysis, how will this project help you grow your revenue? Export potential? Gain back lost market share to existing online traders? Your answer should be 150 words or fewer.
- Annual turnover (current and projected for the next 12 months)
- Number of full-time employees (current and projected for the next 12 months)
- Number of part-time employees (current and projected for the next 12 months)
Project Elements for Grant Support: check all of the boxes that apply for the work you are seeking to have done by external service providers.
- IT Consultation
- Project Management
- New ecommerce site development (from scratch)
- Upgrade of an existing ecommerce site
- Content Management System
- Implementing an online payments system
- App development
- Development of a digital marketing strategy
- Online advertising. Note: the purchase of online advertising cannot make up any more than 30% of approved TOV costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase
- Training specific to the establishment of trading online
- Copy (written or graphic content) for website
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) services
- Analysis of existing site analytics
Project Costs: Your expenditure for your Trading Online project.
- For each of your three suppliers, fill out the product/service they are providing, the service provider’s name, and the cost in Euro (excluding VAT).
- Expected Trading Online Voucher requested amount. This is how much money you would like to request through the scheme for your project. Remember, the maximum voucher award is €2,500.
Additional Documents to Send With Your Application
In addition to the completed application form, you will also need to submit:
- Copy of a quotation from three different suppliers
- Evidence of duration of trading
If you can’t provide the three quotes, for example, if there are multiple project components and getting three quotes is ‘overly burdensome’, this requirement might be waived. The application will then be evaluated based on the quotes available. If this is your case, it is recommended that you consult with LEO before applying.
Submitting Your Application
Save your application form as a PDF and email it to your Local Enterprise Office. You can find the email address of your LEO on their website contact page.
That’s it! Now, you wait 1-4 weeks to hear back from your LEO on whether or not you’ve been approved for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme.
I hope you found this article useful in explaining the process of applying for the Trading Online Voucher. If you have any questions, please contact us and we’ll get back to you within one business day.